General information: situation on trafficking in human beings
The Government of Luxembourg combats trafficking of human beings which is a serious crime and a gross violation of fundamental rights by a multidisciplinary approach as recommended by international and regional organisations (UNO, EU, OSCE, Council of Europe) in the framework of normative texts, projects and awareness raising campaigns.
Luxembourg is a destination country for victims trafficked mainly from Eastern European countries as well as from Brazil, China and other Asian countries and other Asian countries. The most common type of exploitation is sexual exploitation. In the recent years however, there has been an increase of cases of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labor exploitation.
The Government of Luxembourg is pursuing its combat against trafficking in human beings through a multidisciplinary approach. Luxembourg’s policy concerning the trafficking of human beings focuses on three main areas:
- protection and promotion of the victims’ rights
- prosecution of the perpetrators and co-perpetrators
The government has voted several laws approving European and international agreements. It has appointed a National Rapporteur on trafficking, adopted a National Action Plan on Human Trafficking, and launched a national public awareness raising campaign on trafficking and organised trainings for practitioners. A Roadmap on the cooperation between the different stakeholders has been established and is updated on a regular basis.
The current government coalition agreement of 2018-2023 states that the government commits itself to strengthen its national and international efforts against trafficking in human beings in all its forms (prostitution, slavery and forced labour) and to strengthen support for victims of trafficking in terms of legal advice and support in a protected shelter, as well as to strengthen inter-ministerial collaboration.
Institutional, legal and policy framework to address trafficking in human beings
The law of 31 May 1999 concerning the trafficking of human beings introduced a new chapter in the Criminal Code. It modified article 379 of the Criminal Code by introducing the offences of trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation and the sexual exploitation of children.
The amendments to the Criminal Code distinguish human trafficking from smuggling and illegal migration, and expand the definition of human trafficking to include forced labour or services, the exploitation of criminal activities and the removal of organs.
Penalties prescribed in the new legislation increased from a maximum prison term of three years, to a range of five to 10 years.
Luxembourg legislation provides for the confiscation of assets and proceeds of crime in trafficking cases. It also provides for compensation for victims.
In 2008, the government adopted immigration legislation that provides victims of human trafficking who are third country nationals, with a 90-day reflection period during which a person cannot be removed from Luxembourg territory, and which lays down conditions under which a victim is granted a residence permit after the reflection period.
In 2009, the parliament adopted an act establishing a framework of protection and assistance for victims of human trafficking. Two proposals for subordinate legislation (Grand Ducal decree) to enforce this act have been adopted in 2014. One concerns the mode of enforcement of the assistance. The other relates to the structure and the missions of the Committee to monitor trafficking in human beings. The Committee is responsible for establishing mechanisms to coordinate and monitor prevention and to evaluate the threat posed by trafficking. It also collects and analyses statistical data. Furthermore, it supervises the implementation of the relevant legislation to combat trafficking in human beings and evaluates the process. It oversees the enforcement of its provisions, which are aimed at strengthening the rights of victims and improving witness protection. At the same time, it focuses on enforcing legal provisions guiding free movement, and analyses problems related to the implementation of the law. The Committee is composed of representatives of all relevant public bodies and representatives of assistance services.
In 2014, the parliament adopted a law transposing EU Directive 2011/36/EU into national legislation. The Luxemburgish legislation was already largely compliant with the provisions of the directive. The main modifications of the existing legislation are the inclusion of begging, the precision that the victim does not need to cooperate in order to get protected under the anti-trafficking law and that all victim (no residential conditions anymore) has the right to claim compensation before the Ministry of Justice when the offender is not able to pay it. A major amendment is the inclusion of the trafficking of children. The law adopted in 2014 appointed the National Human Rights Commission as National Rapporteur on trafficking in human beings. The National Rapporteur identifies trends in human trafficking, evaluates the results of the actions undertaken to effectively combat this phenomenon, including the collection of statistics in close collaboration with relevant civil society organizations, and submits every two years a report to the Parliament. The Rapporteur also closely follows the work of the Committee and is invited to its meetings. The first report to the Parliament was issued in March 2017.
In 2017, the government adopted a law strengthening procedural guarantees in criminal matters and transposing, among other directives, the EU Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime into national legislation. The law establishes minimum standards concerning the right to translation and interpretation, the right to be informed about his or her rights, the right to be assisted by a lawyer and other. An individual assessment of the victims needs can be asked for, especially in the case of trafficking in human beings victims who are presumed to be more vulnerable and therefore might need more specific assistance. The law also introduces the right for a victim to be accompanied by a person of his or her choice during the first contact with the police.
The Law of 28 February 2018 reinforcing the fight against the exploitation of prostitution, pimping and trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation sets up a “Committee on Prostitution” that monitors, among other things, the implementation of the National Action Plan on “Prostitution”, adopted in June 2016. The law also foresees the cooperation of this Committee with the Committee responsible for monitoring of trafficking in human beings. Victims of sexual exploitation, prostitution, pimping or trafficking are not held responsible for soliciting. The clients who have knowingly used the services of a minor, a particularly vulnerable person or victim of sexual exploitation, pimping or human trafficking will be prosecuted (they might avoid prosecution by testifying against the offenders and revealing useful information to the police). The law also introduces the offence of the confiscation and destruction of identity papers of a trafficking in human beings victim.
- Law of 15 December 2020 approving the Additional Protocol P029 of the International Labour Organisation relating to the Forced Labour Convention.
- Law of 16 June 2021, which amended Article 95 (2) of the Immigration Law by clarifying that residence permits delivered to VHTs are renewable, on each occasion for a period of six months, for the duration of judicial proceedings
The Grand Ducal Regulation of 19 August 2020 amended the composition of the Monitoring Committee on the Fight against the Trafficking in Human Beings (hereafter Monitoring Committee) in order to take into account the amendments introduced by the Law of 4 December 2019 on the creation of the ONA - substituting OLAI for ONA. It also includes a new member: the Victim Assistance Department of the Central Social Assistance Service (Service d'aide aux victimes du Service central d'assistance sociale - SCAS) was added to the Monitoring Committee.
Protection of the victims and access to rights
The housing or placement of victims of trafficking depends on their sex and age. Female victims of trafficking can be placed in a specific shelter for victims of trafficking in human beings, whether it be short-term or long-term placement. There are no long-term shelters for male victims of trafficking in human beings. Male victims are currently placed in apartments.
However, the Ministry of Equal Opportunities recently started elaborating a project with Caritas and in close cooperation with the assistance services (COTEH/SAVTEH) to provide shelter to male victims. During 2009, the government continued its funding of two non-governmental organizations, which provide services for women in distress and female human trafficking victims. The Grand-Ducal decree regarding governmental agreements for shelters of 11 September 2014 gives now the possibility to grant specific agreements for shelters for human trafficking victims.
Luxembourg does not have a formal referral mechanism for victims of human trafficking, but a Roadmap on the cooperation between the different stakeholders regarding the process of detection and identification, to ensure an adequate protection of the victim, and which will be updated soon. In principle, any state service, NGO or individuals detecting a possible victim of trafficking in human beings must bring this situation to the attention of the police services so that they can take a decision on identification and referral to the specialized assistance services. The government has a stated policy of ensuring that victims are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked.
In 2008, immigration legislation was adopted that provides for the granting of temporary residence permits to victims of human trafficking who are third country nationals for a 90 day reflection period. The government encourages victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders during the reflection period, though the granting of the reflection period is not conditional on victims’ cooperation with authorities. During the 90 day reflection period, victims are entitled to protection and assistance measures. After the reflection period, victims are granted a residence permit for a renewable six month period if the conditions in immigration legislation are met.
Special protective measures for children
Until now a few minor victims have been detected during investigations in Luxembourg. Child victims of trafficking are placed in a shelter for juveniles, which offer specialized services for trafficking victims. Since the 2014 acts, if it is not possible to determine the age of the person and if there is a presumption of minority, the victim will be granted the rights of a child victim.
Interviews with children by the Judicial Police section take place in special children-friendly rooms designed and adapted for this purpose.
Furthermore, if a child is a victim or a witness of trafficking of human beings, the recording of the hearing is mandatory. This record can be used as proof and can be reproduced in the courtroom in order to avoid secondary victimization. (Articles 48-1, 79-1 and 158 of the code of criminal procedure). The child may also be accompanied during the hearing by an adult of his/her choice, unless a reasoned decision has been made to the contrary in respect of that person. The hearing of children can also take place without the presence of the public.
The 2009 act on the assistance and protection of victims of human trafficking, establishes the right of child victims of human trafficking to be represented by a guardian if they are not accompanied by an adult until the authority of their country of origin can take charge of them.
Prosecution of traffickers and perpetrators
According to the 2016 Report of the National Rapporteur, from 2010 to 2016, 33 decisions (first and second instance decisions) on trafficking in human beings were taken by the Luxembourg courts. There have been 3 to 7 decisions each year.
Without taking into account the decisions of the Court of Appeal, there were 25 judgments, that is, new cases of trafficking in human beings that have been the subject of a judicial decision.
There were only 2 judgments on trafficking for labor exploitation, while the others were related to sexual exploitation.
As for the sentences, there have been only rare acquittals regarding trafficking in human beings. The length of the prison sentences varies from 6 months to 4 years, and fines vary from 1,000 to 25,000 euros. Although sentences are generally longer than one year, most sentences are partially or completely suspended.
In 2008, the government focused its preventive actions on demand-reduction campaigns. For instance, the Ministry of Equal Opportunity funded a sex trafficking demand reduction poster campaign bearing the slogan: “If you hire a prostitute, you are financing human trafficking”.
In 2014, the government focused its actions on awareness raising by distributing multilingual brochures about human trafficking to the large public but also to potential victims.
In December 2016, the government launched a large public awareness raising campaign on trafficking. The campaign included radio and video spots, posters, a social media kit and a website and is still ongoing.
In October 2019, Luxembourg participated in the EUCPN trafficking preventive campaign which aims to inform victims that they have rights that can be claimed in all EU Member States (assistance and protection, human rights, labour rights, right to be granted a reflection period and a residence permit). The campaign’s dissemination is also done via Facebook and the website "stoptraite.lu" which was created during the first awareness campaign aimed at the general public.
Furthermore, a brochure for potential victims will be available in several languages (including Arabic, Chinese, Albanian etc.) and in the form of pictograms.
These campaigns were repeated in December 2020.
The government also organises different trainings for all kinds of stakeholders: practitioners, civil servants, social assistants, police officers, labour inspectors etc.
Furthermore, the government cooperates with NGOs for organizing conferences, roundtables and expositions.
National action plan
In December 2016, the government has adopted its first National Action Plan on Human Trafficking. The aim of this Action Plan (NAP) is to raise awareness about human trafficking and the measures taken to fight trafficking, to reinforce the collaboration between the different actors and to create synergies that allow for a better prevention of trafficking and protection of the victims.
The Action Plan sets out 3 priorities:
- the detection and protection of victims
- the prosecution and repression of traffickers
- an active and efficient strategy to fight against trafficking
The NAP includes measures to improve the identification process, to set up a more appropriate assistance for male victims and victims who are minors, to facilitate prosecution by changing the legislation, to organise regular training for practitioners as well as awareness raising campaigns.
Cross-border cooperation to address trafficking in human beings
Given the geographical position of Luxembourg in Central Europe, the national police forces closely cooperate with other border countries. The cooperation takes place in the framework of international police cooperation, such as the agreement between “EUROPOL member and third party countries”, tri-lateral agreements (e.g. the Benelux Treaty), multi-lateral treaties (for example, the Prüm Treaty), and the convention on police cooperation (from 2000).
There also exists cooperation with third countries or organizations but it is mainly focused on the allocation of funds.
During its Council Presidency, Luxembourg, as well as Slovakia and Malta, joined an initiative by the Netherlands called “Teamwork!” focusing on trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation. A conference took place in January 2016 in Amsterdam.
During the reference period 2015-2020, the fight against trafficking in human beings has been a consistent part of the closer cooperation between Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands in the framework of the Benelux cooperation. On 2 December 2016, a declaration of intent regarding cooperation in the fight against human trafficking was signed by representatives of the three countries. The declaration covered cooperation with regard to reception centres, assistance to victims, judicial authorities, police services, immigration and integration and the services of social and labour inspection.
In 2018, an awareness day was organised for health professionals from the three Benelux countries, entitled “What is the role of medical professionals?”. The objective of this day was to inform and raise awareness of stakeholders in the field of health to the phenomenon of trafficking, detection of victims of trafficking and how they are supported by various stakeholders, such as the assistance services and judicial authorities who were also present at the awareness day, and their role as a potential detector.
This enhanced Benelux cooperation through the exchange of best practices and trends between neighbouring countries was also highlighted in the context of the signing of a Declaration of Intent between the Benelux States in December 2019. The Declaration highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in the search for sustainable solutions and stressed that policy makers, judicial and police authorities, social workers and NGOs must cooperate actively on the ground in order to ensure rapid and effective assistance to the victims. The signing of this Declaration of Intent was preceded by a day of discussion between experts on trafficking and immigration from all three countries held in Brussels on 1 October 2019. The focus was on the detection, identification and treatment of victims of trafficking in human beings among applicants for international protection. The purpose of this day was to have an exchange between professionals from the field of trafficking and immigration so as to come up with concrete conclusions that for the aforementioned conference held in Luxembourg on 10 December 2019.
The most recent actions in this context in 2021 include the publication of an information brochure clarifying the criminal aspects of trafficking in human beings in each of the three countries, the organisations working on trafficking in human beings and how countries organise the reception and assistance of victims. This specialised information is intended for professionals in the Benelux countries who, in their daily practice, may be in direct contact with victims of trafficking. Moreover, the Benelux organised an expert meeting on prostitution and trafficking in human beings, focusing on raising awareness among clients on these issues and on the role of websites and social networks in the context of sexual exploitation.
Relevant links to national authorities, institutions websites and other contacts
Ministry of Justice, Responsible for the Coordination
Contact: Mrs Pascale Millim
Telephone: +352 247 – 88535
Ministry of Equality between Women and Men, Responsible for the Assistance of the Victims
Contact: Mrs Isabelle Schroeder
Telephone: +352 247-85821
National rapporteur or equivalent mechanism
Commission consultative des Droits de l’Homme
du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg
Contact: Mrs Fabienne Rossler
Telephone: +352 28 37 36 20
Website : www.ccdh.lu
Contact: Mr Steve Schmitz
Service de police judiciaire
24, Rue de Bitbourg, L-2957 Luxembourg
Telephone: +352 244 60 6006
Civil society organisations
Responsible for the Assistance to Victims
Telephone: +352 27 36 56 46; +352 621 316 919
Other civil society organisations
ASTI a.s.b.l. ASTI Luxembourg asbl
10-12, rue Auguste Laval; L-1922 Luxembourg
Telephone : (+352) 43 83 33 1